Herald JournalHerald Journal, March 17, 2003

Joint use talk has cooled on LP school board's end

By Julie Yurek

Joint use talk is cooling now that the Lester Prairie School District received figures projecting no large increase in student population.

Though joint use talk was not the purpose of the special meeting Tuesday, the board was able to get a general idea of a joint use facility being an option after the presentation of student enrollment.

The projection went through to 2012 and showed a slight decrease throughout the nine years, said board member Bob Carlson.

"Right now there is no joint use talk. More than anything else, we're going to concentrate on doing improvements to the school," said Chairman Fred Blaser.

Blaser didn't want to speak for the board, but did say "the meeting made us rethink some things and probably change directions a little bit."

Carlson agreed with Blaser's comments, saying he thinks energy will now be spent on fixing what the district already has, he said.

"The projections are not for certain. It's hard to anticipate that far into the future and things may happen to change that," he said.

SchoolFinances.com anticipates more people moving into the community, but not necessarily children, Carlson said.

SchoolFinances.com, located in Lakeville, provides management and planning information to school districts and presented the board with student enrollment projection information.

As a whole in Minnesota, enrollment is down because of people having fewer children statistically, Carlson said.

Family units are getting smaller nationwide and more couples are childless than in the past, the board was told, Blaser said.

The school board will discuss joint use talk at tonight's regular school board meeting, said Supt. James Redfield.

Council member Nancy Krull echoed Redfield. "I think more formal direction and possible decisions will come at the next couple of board meetings," she said.

"We show some decreases over the years," Redfield said.

Redfield verified that the trend looks to continue or may at least mean that enrollment probably will not be going up.

SchoolFinances.com suggested possible ways to accumulate a bigger student base, Blaser said.

One suggestion was to promote the district more, he said.

SchoolFinances.com did note that Lester Prairie has more students coming in than going out in open enrollment, Blaser said.

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